Julian Brangold Sits Down with the Argentine Artist Tandem
Between technology and biology lies an ever-shifting line, on top of which The Internet Office has built a world of contemplation, beauty, and subtlety. Using 3D tools and with a focus on light, materiality, and composition, they have created a visual compendium of totemic-like sculptures that feel familiar yet extrinsic. Their work is a textural exploration of form that combines compositional simplicity with a poetic complexity, hiding worlds within worlds, where the digital is expressed in a myriad of hypnotic, highly-detailed levels of elucidation.
On this occasion, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Ignacio (Iñaki) Claisse and Francisca Tambasco, the duo known as The Internet Office, at their warm home.
The following is a transcription and translation of a conversation between The Internet Office and artist Julian Brangold recorded live in May, 2022. This is part 1 of 2. You can read Part 2 here.
Julián Brangold: Let’s start at the beginning. When do you think The Internet Office made its first piece of art?
Ignacio Claisse: That’s a strange question to answer, because we started in a very gradual way. Gestures were starting to appear that pointed towards something, but at some point we said, “Let’s compile all this material, having display in mind”, as a more formal project. And eventually there was the first artwork, which I think must have been early May 2020, maybe late April….
Francisca Tambasco: … or June…. Around that time we were already quite interested in the idea of making 3D works and digital art. And we had started during the pandemic…Actually there was a contest in a gallery in Paris where you could send work that had to do with the current context, and as we were interested in the proposal, we made a video based on a render of a 3D space, quite abstract but representing, more or less, a home. We rendered it, we went through the whole process, we sent the project, and it was accepted to be a part of a virtual exhibition.
IC: It was a very different project to what we made later and what we do now. It was interesting, we had a good response from the gallery, which had accepted our work, and suddenly we saw that it was all more possible than we had thought. It was fun, we had a good time, and we were quite upset because of the pandemic.
Julian: And that first work you sent to the contest, was it made with a joint project in mind? Or was it something spontaneous that you did together?
IC: Actually it was “Pancha’s” (Fransisca Tambasco) and her friend’s project. I came in to help them with the video and to do the sound. It was made between the three of us.
FT: But we had been working together for several years on other projects. We had a tendency to work together. Before the pandemic, we had a bookstore that sold vinyls and had a gallery space. We also organized a couple of shows there. It was all very gradual, but we had an interest in working towards a more artistic look at what we were doing, and that ended up culminating in the project we have here.
Julian: A more “artistic” look, meaning what you did before was more formally related to architecture?
FT: Yes, I was more into architecture but perhaps in a more abstract way, more in the concepts that architecture deals with but not applied to constructing buildings, as if there was already an intention to detach myself a little from that.
IC: Even before that, we also had a project related to cultural events, mainly music and parties, that we worked on together. We were increasingly moving away from that and going a little more to art. The books we had in the record store and bookstore were also focused on art.
It was a very gradual process of finding what we liked, which culminated in this project.
Julian: So you did that first work together, and then what happened? How does the The Internet Office project take shape more concretely?
IC: In time, and by just doing the work, several projects began to appear. I guess at the beginning it was a bit more experimental, in a way. I knew something about 3D modeling, so it was through learning the tools and testing which outcomes worked and which didn’t. The things and concepts that we started to deal with later began to appear in a very intuitive way, in small gestures, things that began to attract us.
FT: Yes, it was like trying things without previous concepts, and we put together a lot of works at that time. We were outputting about three artworks a day. Everything was very experimental, and then, as we were compiling all those works, we began to identify what interested us in those works and why. And then we began to conceptualize the work a little more. And through a cycle, the deeper conceptualization of the work, we began to identify what it was that interested us and why. We slowly put together these universes that are the ones we are interested in working with today.
IC: I add, for me this kind of intuitive idea: There is a reason why you are attracted to certain things, and it is not only personal but also in some way generational and contextual.
The pandemic was happening, we were at home, we were very dependent on the computer, and what was happening in the world also attracted us. And then you start to form an intuitive path that takes you to a concrete place.
Julian: So it started more from a more formal exercise, working with the tool and seeing what comes out of it, and then looking at that material and asking “What happened here?”
FT: Yes, there is still a lot of intuition in the works we do now, but as we already identified and are aware of certain things that challenge us. We start the process having more in depth information.
IC: At the same time, we started to consume quite a lot of artwork from other artists. I studied multimedia arts, and I saw a lot, but it was more installation art, technological arts, etc. We had a long period of seeing what else there was. So at the same time that we were learning to develop the tool and to feel comfortable with it, a lot of aesthetic doors were opening to sculpture, drawing, design. All of that also enriched the work.
FT: It ended up being much more selective. Because of the context of being on the computer, researching all the time.
Julian: And when did the name “The Internet Office” appear, and why?
IC: It was right at the beginning. The project, name and form, was born almost before the content….. or very much at the same time. They emerged from the same thing.
FT: We started experimenting, making a couple of artworks, and while that was happening we thought about how we would like to give shape to all of this.
IC: It never had a definite aspiration, it was built in a playful way, it was a game. It was a fun moment, we had to entertain ourselves somehow, because of the pandemic, and it fit very well with our lifestyle at the time.
Julian: What was the work process like at that particular moment?
IC: It was a bit about going crazy with the computer. We had a very bad computer … a 2013 Macbook Pro, but it didn’t have a dedicated graphics card. And that’s where the limitation of the computer started, we were going crazy trying to see how far we could take it and what we could do with it.
FT: The type of rendering we could do was also very limiting. The aesthetics of the works at that time were a bit defined by the computer we had.
IC: Because of the 3D knowledge we had on the one hand and the computer we had on the other, maybe that’s why we tend to a certain minimalism in terms of elements, and we have this obsession with one central thing, and it has to be as beautiful as possible. For example, a work like Milton’s [Milton Sanz], where you have a lush and complex landscape, that was impossible. We had to concentrate our energy on one thing that had to condense everything. And that was due to the limitations brought on by the computer.
Julian: It is very interesting to think that at the beginning the technical limitations define a path that later dictates aesthetics. Trodden many times, it becomes the path you learned to walk, and that mark remains.
FT: Now we have changed computers, and we maintain a little bit of that.
IC: It’s how we imagine our work. Kind of like this fragment of another world, but it looks isolated in a way.
FT: Almost like an archeological process where one piece condenses a lot of other things, and it is a little window to a universe.
Julian: I see that in your work there is always something theatrical, an object to which all the attention is given. There is a lot of work put in the aesthetic, you feel that everything is where it should be. But at the same time, there is always an opposition to that which is more organic, or messy, or free. This contrast between the theatrical, the somewhat more rigid, and what could be called organic or chaotic, how do you think it takes shape in your process?
IC: I think we like scenography. There is something very theatrical in scenography, where for example the lighting is very important. The atmosphere or mood of the piece depends a lot on how it is illuminated, and where the eye goes because of that. It’s not the same to put a light on the right as one on the left because the shadows generate totally different textures.
FT: And we also like to work with still images, so we like the idea of movement suggested by how the pieces are positioned without the movement being translated in time (video). We pay enough attention to the composition of the pieces to suggest things that maybe are not literally expressed within the work.
IC: Maybe the fact we work with still images is also related to the technical limitations of the computer: We couldn’t make videos in the beginning even if we wanted to. Now we can, but for some reason we are still not that interested in it. So the works capture a moment in time that condenses a lot of dynamics and processes. Everything has to be in that image, and it has to talk a little bit about the process that generated that figure. Because we imagine, as you say, organic processes, it could be related to the way stalactites are built, like a drop falling and forming something, to imagine going from a small gesture to the construction of something whole. In a way, it is similar to generative art, where, for example, you begin with a point that moves, and that generates a wave/work. We imagine this kind of process that happens before that moment that we endure frozen in time, which is the resulting image.
FT: We see many of these images as if they were a still from a video, a captured moment.